One of the online ads Organizing for Action is running Friday in local media to push
13 Republicans to explain their stances on universal background checks for gun purchases.
In its roll-out event Friday, the new advocacy group Organizing for Action, put together by advisers of President Barack Obama to push his legislative agenda, is targeting 13 Republicans coast to coast with a "Day of Action" on guns and a nearly six-figure online ad buy in local media. The day will also include an array of another 100 activities in 80 congressional districts—vigils, petition drops at congressional offices, thank-you affairs for officials who support background checks and letter-to-the-editor writing bees.
The first goal of the group, which took over the Obama campaign's prodigious grassroots infrastructure, is to get targeted congressional members to say where they stand on a universal background check for all gun purchases. Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of Americans support background checks of anyone buying a gun from any source. Currently, only sales made through federally licensed dealers must undergo the checks. Private sales at gun shows, over the backyard fence or from the trunk of a car are exempt.
No legislation on background checks has been introduced yet, but a bill on the matter is being put together by two Republican senators—Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mark Kirk of Illinois—and two Democrats—Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Future OFA actions deploying its 2.2 million members, according to OFA officials, will "rally support for the other planks of Obama’s gun control proposal, which include an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines." Last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill reinstating an assault-weapons ban. Such a ban is the most controversial of the proposed gun restrictions that President Obama has announced that he supports. While it has majority support of Americans, it is far less popular than other measures and it has several Democratic foes in the Senate, mostly from Western states.
Each of Friday's events focuses on a specific member of Congress that OFA views as a key vote in the House and Senate. The OFA advertising will include some homepage takeovers. OFA also plans a "tweet-your-rep" push. All aspects of the day of action seeks to serve "a real-world goal of holding members of Congress accountable," according to an OFA spokesperson.
Among other things, the OFA website will be highlighting stories of gun violence and encouraging visitors to add their own stories.
Organizing for Action spokeswoman Katie Hogan told the Los Angeles Times:
"We strongly believe that our supporters will continue to be more engaged if we allow them to engage on the specific issues they care about," she said. "It isn't one-size-fits-all."
Among the targets for the Day of Action: Reps. Jeff Denham, Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Gary G. Miller and David Valadao of California; Reps. Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania; David Joyce of Ohio; John Kline of Minnesota; Mike Coffman of Colorado; Daniel Webster and C.W. “Bill” Young of Florida; and Robert Pittenger of North Carolina. In the Senate, Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are the targets.
The leaders of the National Rifle Association, the gun industry's mouthpiece, have so far vociferously opposed all new gun legislation, including expanding background checks to all purchases of firearms. On Thursday, the organization began its own targeted ad buy in local media in states where there are open Senate seats in 2014 or where its leaders believe Democratic senators and representatives up for reelection that year may be vulnerable if they favor new gun-control laws.
UPDATE: Changes have been made in the headline, photo caption, first and ninth paragraphs to reflect the fact that OFA changed its mind and chose to target 13 instead of 16 members of Congress in the Day of Action.